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Texas Police Officer Charged With Murder in Fatal Shooting of Black Man

Author: Bryan Pietsch, The New York Times

Posted on October 30, 2020

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Officer Shaun Lucas was arrested by the Texas Rangers, which said his actions were “not objectionably reasonable.”

A white Texas police officer has been charged with murder in the fatal shooting of a 31-year-old Black man who officials said had begun to walk away as he was confronted at a gas station on Saturday.

Police Officer Shaun Lucas of the Wolfe City Police Department was arrested by the Texas Rangers and booked into the Hunt County, Texas, jail on Monday before being transferred to another facility. His bond was set at $1 million, according to jail records.

Officer Lucas had responded to a call on Saturday about a “possible fight in progress” in Wolfe City, Texas, a city of about 1,400 roughly 70 miles northeast of Dallas, the Texas Rangers said in a statement late Monday night.

The police officer attempted to detain Jonathan Price, who had intervened after he saw a “man assaulting a woman,” said S. Lee Merritt, a lawyer for Mr. Price’s family. Mr. Merritt said Mr. Price was unarmed.

Mr. Price “resisted in a nonthreatening posture and began walking away,” the Texas Rangers said. Mr. Lucas fired a Taser before “discharging his service weapon striking” Mr. Price.

Mr. Price was taken to Hunt Regional Hospital, where he died.

“The preliminary investigation indicates that the actions of Officer Lucas were not objectionably reasonable,” the Texas Rangers said. “The Texas Rangers have charged Officer Lucas with the offense of murder and booked him into the Hunt County Jail.”

Mr. Merritt said on Twitter after Mr. Lucas was taken into custody that the arrest should have “happened the day he murdered JP,” adding, “John should still be here.”

Mr. Merritt said that the arrest was “step one.”

“Let’s see it through to justice,” he said.

It could not be determined early Tuesday if Officer Lucas had a lawyer.

Some prominent Democrats around Texas expressed outrage on social media at the shooting.

“Jonathan Price should be alive,” Beto O’Rourke, a former Texas congressman and former presidential candidate, said on Twitter. “Police must stop killing Black men and women.”

Julian Castro, former presidential candidate and former mayor of San Antonio, described Mr. Price as “a community leader and mentor who was killed while trying to break up a domestic dispute.”

“I hope his family receives the justice they deserve,” he said on Twitter. 

Mr. Price was a motivational speaker and trainer, Mr. Merritt said. He was also a former college football player. “He was known as a hometown hero,” Mr. Merritt said.

Wolfe City officials said in a statement on the city’s Facebook page on Sunday that an officer had been “placed on administrative leave pending an investigation” by the Texas Rangers after the shooting.

On its website, the city’s Police Department lists Officer Lucas as one of the department’s three law enforcement officers. Police officials did not immediately respond to a request for comment early Tuesday.

The Texas Rangers, a law enforcement division within the state’s Department of Public Safety, is investigating the killing with the cooperation of the Wolfe City Police Department and the Hunt County district attorney.

Maria Cramer contributed reporting.

 

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